Router Forums banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

10 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello I'm Marcel and living in the Netherlands.
I am completely new to woodworking so I have a lot to catch up.
I hope to learn a lot from you guys.:grin:

Premium Member
6,056 Posts
Welcome to the community Marcel!

Super Moderator
6,787 Posts
Hello and welcome to the forum Marcel.
pleased to have you join us

Retired Moderator
16,386 Posts
Welcome Marcel. I hope you have a lot of free time. On our homepage are the categories that threads are put into. You can go to those and see what other members have posted. You can also use the Community Search to look for something specific. There also a lot of videos on YouTube to watch.

Official Greeter
8,154 Posts
Welcome to the forum Marcel.

18,989 Posts
Welcome to the Forum Marcel. Glad you have joined the fun. I have been doing woodworking seriously for 8 years but carpentry and home repairs, improvement for 50 years. What I'm posting refers to some tool brands you may not have available in Holland, but the advice is still useful.

The following has been posted before so those who have read it before may wish to skip it.

Here are 17 things I've done to accelerate my learning curve with wood, thought you might find them useful. We still use Imperial, not metric in the US, so translate that to Metric. I think Metric is easier to use and wish we'd made the conversion.

1) If you use Firefox browser, get a free add on, YouTube download helper app. Search for videos on all aspects of woodworking that interest you and collect them. I watch a video on the topic of whatever project, or phase of a project, on which I'm currently working. VERY helpful to see it done before you try it yourself.

I use a YouTube downloader that’s free using the tools menu/add ons. It puts a download button under the video on YouTube. Click the button, name the file (I always label it according to the tool or job it works on. For example, anything to do with routing, I label as "Router", which clusters all the similar videos together in Windows Explorer. All my videos go into a single folder. I sometimes watch woodworking video while on airplanes, which occasionally triggers interesting conversations.

2) There are hundreds of inexpensive used books on woodworking on Amazon. Order some on basic tools and woodworking. You'll need to learn to "tune up" saws and other tools, and books are how I learned to do these things. It wasn't until I tuned up my saws that good results began to happen. My saws cut exactly 90 and 45, or any angle I need now. Two books I really love are Bill Hylton’s “Woodworking with the Router,” and “The Joint Book” by Terrie Noll. The Noll Book is a really concise and heavily illustrated reference with great hints for making every variety of joints. There are lots of good books about using the table saw.

3) Make some first projects with MDF before using more expensive wood. Make the same project several times with improved skill, material and workmanship each time. You will learn a lot each time you do this.

4) Consider making your own cabinets or stands for each of your power tools as first projects. My first cabinet was of MDF and my sander and all my sanding gear still sit on and in it. I can't tell you how much confidence I got from building space efficient shop stands and now, all the tools in my smallish shop are on casters and easily moved around for use and cleanup. Put doors on every cabinet to keep sawdust out. BTW, if you add casters, use two non swivels on the back and two locking casters on the front--make sure the lock secures both the wheel and the swivel so your carts don't move around in use. My shop-made stands also take up far less floor space than the spread-legged ones that came with many tools, which makes it far easier to move tools around in a compact shop--which you'll do often to clean out the sawdust.

5) Many of the woodworking supply stores in the US (and I imagine overseas) have demonstrations on weekends. Attend and get to know the people you meet there. They can turn you on to sources of wood and you can get some nice help and begin a friendship or two. Don’t forget to talk with the employees as well. At our local Rockler, several of the employees are serious and experienced woodworkers and always eager to help. I’ve also found some of the big stores employ very experienced wood workers, carpenters, electricians and plumbers. You just have to start a brief conversation, if they seem knowledgeable, ask them about what they did before they worked at the store. Many communities have woodworking clubs, and you can also learn a lot by visiting the shops of people you meet in those clubs and college or trade school classes.

6) Among your first purchases should be some form of dust control. Many woods cause cancer and can quickly damage your lungs. Dust collection information is on this site. I have a 4-inch (about 100 mm) system installed to collect sawdust, but I also have and recommend a dust mask with a small fan that pulls in pressurized air that not only keeps dust out, but also keeps my glasses from fogging. Got mine at Rockler and keep a couple of sets of rechargable AA batteries ready to use. Here's the site: Power Air Respirator - Rockler Woodworking Tools. For cutting just a piece or two, I keep surgical style disposable masks handy. I also built a box with 20x20 filter inside and a fan that pulls air through to remove fine airborne dust over time. I just leave it turned on until the air is completely clear. You can also just tape a filter to the back of a good sized box fan in a pinch. Don't take your mask off right after cutting or cleaning up because there is always dust floating around for awhile. If you start coughing, it means you need to pay very close attention to dust control and wearing a mask at all times. It takes months to recover from working with MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) without a mask. I had a dust filter bag inside the shop, but recently found the shop was filled with the most dangerous ultra-fine dust that it let leaked, so now I port everything outside through a filter box (and my cough subsided). Read about 2 stage dust collection on this site or on YouTube.

7) Take your time with projects, there's no rush and it is easy to have a project nearly complete, then make a careless, quick cut or other error that ruins your work. In most cases, it is best to fit pieces by putting them in place and marking rather than just measuring and cutting. Cut a bit over size and shave with a small plane for an exact fit.

8) Buy the very best table saw you can manage. It will quickly become the most used tool in your shop. A little debt could move you up a notch and help you produce better results and cut thicker wood. Get the best tools you can afford. Read the reviews and ask questions on the forum before you choose. To me, it is worth it to use credit if necessary to get better quality.

There are models called hybrid saws over here that have the mechanical works attached to the cabinet rather than the top, which is good. I recently replaced my old contractor saw with a Laguna Fusion saw. My shop is not wired for 220v, so I was happy with the 110volt, 1 3/4 hp motor. But you can get most saws in 220 and the Laguna can use either. There are many brands of saws that are not bad if you learn to set up and tune up your saws and tools (books and videos show you how) because you can’t make anything great if your tools are even slightly off.

The best safety device is paying very close attention to what you’re doing with a saw, but a close second is a MicroJig Gripper, which lets you control wood on the saw while keeping your fingers safely away from the blade. There are two modelsl, either of which is good.

There are many used 220 v tools available at good prices--if you feel comfortable buying used. Another tool source is to visit estate sales. Every once in awhile, you find tools no one else in the family desires or knows the value of, so you can get them cheap.

9) If you don't have a router yet, I have come to like the Triton TRA001, which is perfect for table use, particularly since you can adjust height quite precisely from the above the table with its built in lift. That feature really saves my knees. However, it is just too heavy for this old guy to control freehand. I really like the Bosch 1617 EVSPK for hand held use (The numbering system is probably different in Holland). There is a newer model that has a light and switch on the handle that costs more. Both come in a kit with fixed and plunge base. Bosch has many accessories available that are very well made. Others in this Forum like different brands, but the Bosch seems to be a favorite. I prefer the raising and lowering mechanism on the Bosch with its precise micro adjustment knob. The Bosch fixed base can be used as a lift in a table as well. If space is an issue, the Bosch will be a good choice. The books on routers and other topics are really useful for understanding some of the woodworking terms associated with this must have tool..

10) When it comes to router bits, try to stick to the half inch (or metric equivalent) shafts with carbide cutting tips. Bosch and Freud are easily available at home improvement stores here, but there are lots of other excellent brands including the well liked Whiteside and Sommerfeld bits. Be careful of those ultra sharp tips. I'd suggest storing them in one of those foam lined cases you can get pretty cheap from Harbor Freight. The tips are fragile, so store them so they don't click together. A few of the cheap bits don’t have carbide tips. Spiral bits are sometimes used to cut grooves. Carbide spiral bits are both expensive and fragile and it takes very little abuse to ruin them. Many use high speed steel bits for that purpose.

I buy bits as I need them and don't much care for the kits. However, someone recently suggested getting a kit to start out with, then gradually replacing only the bits you actually use with top grade bits. This makes some sense to me, but stick to the half inch shafts if you can manage it--most kits I’ve seen have 1/4 inch shafts. I would avoid huge sets with odd bits you are unlikely ever to use. A few standard bits most of us have are the round over bits. You can get them in different sizes, but mostly you’re likely to use the quarter, half and ¾ inch sizes. Another bit that is very useful for cabinetry is the half inch rabbiting bit with a bearing. Some come with a changeable bearing that allows you to change the size of the rabbit. Doing fancier projects like doors makes those cash register numbers spin because door bit sets cost a lot!

Don't know if they are available in the Netherlands, but I like Sommerfeld's MATCHED sets for door making. The term matched means once you set the correct height for the first bit, you can then just drop the second bit in and it automatically matches the cut of the first. Since you don't push any bit all the way to the bottom, you place a small rubber grommet into the bottom of the router's collet and let the bit ride on that. This makes work much easier. Sommerfeld also makes a star shaped plastic jig that really makes it easy to set your bits up quickly and accurately. Go look at the Sommerfeld tools site for information. There are other companies making matched sets, and you pay a small premium for them.

One more thing about using bits, don’t try to take off too much wood in one pass. Make several passes taking a little more wood with each pass, about 2-3 mm per pass.Pay attention to the grain of the wood (that is covered in most books on routing) with a final pass just shaving and making for a very smooth finish. The larger the bit, the slower you should set the speed control on the router. I recently learned about "bumping," which means cutting nearly the full depth by pushing the bit straight into the wood so it has a scalloped edge, then making a full depth pass to smooth out the scallops. This has the advantage of allowing you to set up the depth of cut once on the table, rather than having to keep resetting the fence for subsequent passes and on multiple pieces. A more powerful router makes this work better.

I prefer to use a table mounted router whenever possible. It is far safer and for me, more precise. Search for how to make your own table on this site

11) The most useful item I own for my saws is a Wixey digital angle gauge, which allows me to set up all my saws to exact angles (eg: 90 degrees to the table). It wasn't until I started being meticulous about this that my projects started working out right. These are about $30 on Amazon.

12) Pocket Hole jig and construction. Although there are many ways to make cabinets and face frames, I have found that pocket hole screws have really made making them easier. Just remember, coarse threads for soft woods, fine thread for hard woods, and I find the square head easier to drive correctly than the Phillips type. My jig is mounted on a piece of plywood that I can clamp to my workbench. The jig makes a lot of sawdust so dust collection is a good idea. I also find that with careful, exact 90 degree end cuts to the wood, the pocket hole approach produces absolutely square cabinets and face frames. You’ll need a couple of face clamps and a Kreg right angle clamp if you use pocket hole joinery. There are many helpful videos on this jig.

13) Make a table saw sled (lots of YouTube videos on how to) for perfect 90 degree cuts on your table saw. I have a little more money than time, so I bought the sled Rockler makes that has a swinging fence and a very precise angle scale. I love that thing and set up a special shelf right next to my table saw to store it and keep it flat. Cross cuts on the sled are wonderfully exact and it prevents most tear out, the ragged or splintered area at the end of a cut. The sled is also a much safer way to cut short pieces as well. Perfect the 90 using drafting square to set the sled to a precise 90 degree angle to the blade. Most saws come with a miter gauge, but I prefer one of the precision gauges. I have an Osborne gauge I really like, but many here like Incra’s gauge. Precision is important with gauges.

You will read a LOT about jigs here and in your books and videos. Jigs, accurate T squares, a good straightedge are all incredibly useful for producing good work. The more I venture into really good hard wood construction, the more I appreciate how jigs produce accurate results without wasting expensive wood through mis-cuts.

14) I had a lot of problems with "tear out" at first. Tearout is the ragged edge you get when the blade or bit passes through the end of a cut. Most of that stopped when I started using a sacrificial backer to push the last bit of a piece through the router. I often use square pieces of MDF (medium density fiberboard) for that because it is cheap and stays flat. When it gets torn up, I just cut off a chunk and use what’s left. Really helps! You can do the same with any piece by putting a backer board behind where the cut goes--you cut through the piece first, the backer last. You may also want to use "feather boards" to hold boards in correct alignment to the fence and blade or bit. You can buy or make feather boards, search feather boards on the Web

Zero Clearance Inserts for the table saw: On the table saw, buy or make blank inserts to make zero clearance inserts (see YouTube for how to do it), this really helps make great, tear-out free cuts. The insert is the removable oval piece in most saws through witch the blade passes. Zero clearance means you literally push the blade up through an uncut wood insert so there is zero gap between the blade and insert. It effectively stops tear out. I also found that I wanted to push that last quarter inch through the bit too fast, now I feed at a steady pace all through the cut.

15) Clamps: The joke is you can never have too many clamps. The ones I use most are about $3 each at Harbor Freight, a cheap tool place in the U.S., about 25-30 CM F clamps (they look like an F). I have 18 of them now. I keep 4 to 6 of their 18 and 24 inch models. I have four sets of two of 24 to 60 inch (Jet brand) parallel clamps for making really square cabinets where holding things square for glue-up is important. I’ve given up on plastic clamps. Depending on what you’re making, a few wooden hand screw clamps could be useful, including holding small parts for safer routing.

16) Hand planes and hand tools: Learning to use these is something of an art, as is proper sharpening and setting of their blades. There are lots of woodworkers who really love working with hand tools, most will suggest you buy used and clean and tune tour planes up--which is actually quite fun. Chisels are important particularly if you are making furniture. Sharpening chisels is a basic skill involving many ultra fine grits of sandpaper, ultra flat surfaces, maybe diamond sharpening stones—anything less than a razor sharp chisel is pretty useless. Don’t scrimp on chisels, cheap ones get dull fast, and my best ones are of German steel. Look up sharpening methods on YouTube, it takes patience but not much money to work sharp. I recently bought a diamond sharpening device with diamond dust imbedded in a nickel steel plate. It has small cut out ovals so the metal grit doesn't clog the diamond surface. Use these sparingly and use one of the specialty diamond sharpening lubricants with it. I use this for quick sharpening touch ups, just 4-5 strokes will do. It’s a little easier to use than the sand paper method, which I save for major sharpening tasks. You can also use these to resharpen some router bits.

17) If you have a dedicated shop space, take the time and trouble to insulate it. You will enjoy working in it much more if you're not roasting or freezing. I recently installed a middle sized window AC unit through a shop wall for relief from our desert summer and it is now even more of a pleasure to be out there. Insulation also holds in heat during winter. A couple of heaters bring the tempperature up, but just one keeps it comfortable after that. Cold fingers are clumsy, not good around spinning blades!

Finally, Stick suggests that you use the Forum’s archives when you have questions. There is a wealth of answers to most questions you might have. He also cautions about using one word search terms, which can return massive amounts of information. Here’s the link: The only problem with that is that in asking questions live, you get the pleasure of interacting with the people here, which is what really keeps me coming back.

You will find that woodworking is not necessarily a cheap hobby. Wood can be costly, so are decent tools, and there's hardware, stuff for jigs, dust collection and on and on as you get going. But for me, and most of the people here, the pleasure of working with wood, making things is worth it.

This has run pretty long, but I think the information is helpful for someone new to the hobby. The suggestions represent a LOT of trial and error, but figuring out how to avoid and fix mistakes is where the real learning and the fun happens.
1 - 8 of 8 Posts